Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chapter 3 is complete


      1. Adapting to Country Life.

The daylight streaming into her room woke Cynthia. More accurately re-woke her after the dawn chorus of bird calls had so rudely woken her earlier in the morning. She sat up in bed and tried to remember what she should do. The chamber pot beckoned first, then she pulled a bell rope for her maid.
Hannah timidly knocked on her door.
“Come in.”
Hannah carefully opened the door, unsure of what she'd find. Her imagination was filled with distressing visions of terrible creatures or obscure dark satanic rituals. To be fair, she had been borrowing Alice's copies of Mrs. Radcliffe's works and enjoyed intense Gothic romance novels every bit as much as her mistress. What she found was an impatient young woman who said, “Hannah, despite what you may have heard or seen, I'm neither a witch nor a dragon.”
“Yes, Ma'am.”
“What I am is a hungry young woman, who needs her morning water and help with her hair and dressing. Like any other gentlewoman.”
“Yes, Ma'am. It was just last night when I was unpacking, I thought that day book of yours spoke to me.”
“Of course it didn't. I neglected to tell you that my bag has a device in it that makes a sound like speech. A bladder and reeds. It's there to scare thieves.” Cynthia didn't elaborate, and Hannah, grateful for a rational explanation, didn't demand further information.
An hour later, Cynthia appeared in the morning room, only to find that breakfast was a mid-morning affair and she had risen far too early in the morning. She asked Hannah if there was anything available to eat and ended up settled in the library with a cup of chocolate. The library was a large room with one imposing wall of bookshelves. Like most libraries in country estates it was more for show than for actual reading. The books were removed once or twice a year for dusting, then carefully returned to their places. So she started carefully searching for something she could stand to read. In the end she discarded 'Fordyce's Sermons for Young Women' in favor of a volume of Coleridge’s poetry.
Alice found her there, still immersed in it an hour later. A cup of cold chocolate sat, untasted, next to her. “Cynthia, I didn't know you liked poetry.”
“I didn't either.”
“Anyway, if you can break yourself away from Coleridge, we are assembling in the morning room for breakfast. I thought it might be fun to ride after we break our fast.”
“Ride?”
“Go explore the local countryside, and get a little exercise.”
“Sounds like fun. I was wondering what you got up to for enjoyment.”
Breakfast sped by. Lord Wroxham quizzed Cynthia about riding.
“Do you ride much, Miss Morris?”
“Some.”
“Surely you can be more informative than that. Have you joined a hunt?”
“A hunt?” She paused, “Hunting things is one of my specialties.”
“I was talking about wearing the pink and riding to hounds.”
“No, my guardian won't let me.”
“Lord Peter's is an intrepid hunter.”
“That is as may be, but Lord Petersborough isn't. It's his gout, you see.”
“I'm sorry to hear that. Should I send condolences?”
“I wouldn't bother. He doesn't like to be pitied.”
“So where do you ride?”
“Petersborough Park. Nothing special, and just a dear old pony.”
Lord Wroxham found himself thinking, “I wish you wouldn't prevaricate. Petersborough wouldn't waste his ponies1 on a pony for you.”
There was a minor complication after breakfast because Cynthia had neglected to pack her riding habit. Alice offered to let her borrow an old one. Together they walked out to the stables where the grooms had placed sidesaddles on two mares.
Alice practically skipped in to the stable. Her season in London was enjoyable enough, but she missed her special horse. She patted her mare on the nose, and nuzzled it, then easily mounted her.
Cynthia stood there, in front of her horse with her jaw dropped in amazement. “You ride these? They're so big.”
“Of course. What else do you ride?”
“I don't know.” Well, actually she did, but neither spaceships, racing hover bikes, nor near-orbital scooters were available.
“Come on. Time is passing and I want to get out before it gets too sultry.”
Cynthia stood there with her hand on one earring. She stood there with her eyes flickering from side to side. After a minute, Alice asked, “Cynthia are you well?” Cynthia impatiently waved her hand in reply and returned to what she was doing.
Eventually, Cynthia moved. She gave Alice a tentative smile and said, “Sorry about that. I needed to steel myself.”
“If you're scared of them, we can read instead.”
“No.” Cynthia pulled her head erect and her shoulders back. “One thing I've learned in my travels, is that the fear of something is usually worse than the experience.” She smiled, and added, “Doesn't make it any easier.” Then she cautiously walked to the front of her horse, took the bridle from the groom and stroked the horse's nose. It whinnied and twitched. Cynthia jumped, but immediately returned to the horse's side. Alice was showing signs of her impatience to get going when Cynthia finally said, “That's enough. I'm ready.” Then she confidently stepped back to the saddle, put her foot in the stirrup and sprang up. She asked Alice and the groom, “Is this right?”
“Yes. It looks like you're mounted properly. Is it comfortable?”
“Not really.”
The groom adjusted her saddle to move the upper stirrup, and then they rode out of the stables and into the fields beyond.
Alice rode quickly into the fields beyond the farm yard. She had steady hands and the joy of riding her favorite horse again filled her. She urged it on to canter down the road.
Cynthia called, “Alice! Wait.” She could just control her mount. The moment her mount saw Alice’s cantering in the distance, it shot off after it. Cynthia rocked back in her seat, and dropped the reins while she grabbed the saddle with both of her hands. Eventually her horse stopped, and started to graze. She touched her earring and said, “Chris, what am I going to do? This isn’t as easy as it looks.”
“Ma’am,” he replied, “What happened?”
“The horse has a mind of its own.”
“Did you drop the reins?”
“Yes, da- da-, yes it took me both hands to hold on.”
“Don’t drop the reins next time. Can you reach them?”
“No!”
Alice finally noticed that her companion was missing. She turned her mount and cantered back, calling for her friend. She found Cynthia disconsolately sitting on her mount, and trotted over. “What’s wrong?”
“I can’t ride. I’m sorry Alice.”
Alice reached down and grabbed the reins for Cynthia. “Cynthia, let me show you how.” She handed them to her. “It’s not hard.”
“That’s easy for you to say.”
“It really isn’t. Do not drop the reins.”
“But I felt like I was falling off and needed both hands to hold on.” Alice rode over and pushed Cynthia so hard that she rocked in the saddle. “Did you fall off?”
“No.”
“Now do you think you’d fall off if the horse moved?”
“No.”
“Now let’s walk on.”
As the afternoon continued, and under Alice’s tuition, Cynthia’s confidence in the saddle grew. By the end of the day she could canter with some level of confidence. They rode back to the stables together.
As Alice and Cynthia returned from the stables to the hall, Alice asked her friend, “Did you enjoy it?”
“That was the most fun I've ever had going so slowly.”
“What do you mean slowly?”
“You really feel you're moving when the horse canters. The wind and the noise, it's exhilarating. I've done.” She stopped.
“You've done what?”
“Nothing.”
“Cynthia, it isn't just your imagination is it? I can't stay friends with you if you keep hiding things from me.”
“I'm not sure you can handle the truth.”
“Try me.”
“Riding that mare was almost as much fun as the time I dodged rocks, rockets and blasts in my ship while the entire Cataxi navy followed me in hot pursuit. You only do that once or twice in a lifetime.”
“Imagining things again?”
“No. It happened. I told you I'd tell you the truth, but I expect you don't believe me.”
“Why only once in a lifetime?”
“Unless you're a better than half-decent pilot you will crash into a rock or they will manage to hit your ship with a blast. It was even a little closer for me than I'm wont to enjoy, but I'm not known as Cynthia the Invincible throughout border-space for nothing.”
“Cynthia, you really do read too many novels. I never thought I'd say this, because I hated it when my governess said it to me, but you really must rein in that imagination of yours. It will get you in trouble.”
“Alice, you asked me to tell you the truth. I did. When my ship is repaired, I'll take you to see Mars or Saturn. Which would you prefer?”
“Stop it. You're being silly.”
“You'll see, but I'll stop it for now.”
A few moments later, Alice shyly added, “If we can't see them both, I'd like to see Mars.”
“Consider it a promise. Did you know what's for dinner? I'm famished with all this exercise.”
“We'll have to get changed first. I think cook was planning a roast capon.”
“Capon?”
“A big chicken.”
“Oh, a bird.”
“Yes, silly a bird. Either that or a meat pie. Depends on what she has.”
“Sounds, interesting.” Cynthia was still adjusting from the textured microbial protein of her ship to real food. She said, “I suppose you haven't heard of Marmite?”
“What's that?”
“Never mind.”
Hannah met them as they walked up to their rooms. She bustled Alice off to get changed, and told Cynthia that she had already put her afternoon water in the room. “I'll be with you presently, but you can get started without me, I'm sure Miss.”
Cynthia was standing in her corset and chemise when Hannah knocked and entered. She had been washing the 'pits and smelly bits' with a cloth. She looked over and asked “Hannah, there isn't any chance of a real bath is there?”
“Miss, not with the kitchen preparing dinner. It will take them time to heat up the water, and the servants are too busy to carry it up here.”
“I thought it might not be possible.”
As she bustled about, Hannah said, “A bath, why-ever would you want one today. Surely you had one last week?”
“I did, but still it is nice to be thoroughly clean and refreshed after hard exercise.”
“Maybe,” and here she sniffed Cynthia, “But you're clean enough, especially after I put some of this lavender water on you.”
“As you wish.”
Hannah helped Cynthia finish dressing then quickly headed back to see to Alice's needs. Meanwhile, Cynthia sat and tried to brush out her hair. She touched her earring and said, “Chris, these people. Primitive is too advanced a word for them. Please do your best to finish repairing yourself quickly.”
“What is it, Ma'am?”
“No baths. Can you imagine riding animals? It is hard, sweaty exercise and then not having a bath?”
“It is what they are used to Ma'am. Did this happen in Jane Austen world?”
“No.”
“I didn't think much of the accuracy of that game. Remember I warned you about it?”
There was a knock on the door, and Alice entered. “Who were you talking to?”
“Myself. Do you see anyone else?”
“No. Well, do up your hair. They're about to ring the gong for dinner.”
While Cynthia struggled to get her hair into some manageable form, Alice noticed her red stone on a necklace. “What a pretty gem. Where did you get it?”
“I, uh, found it somewhere.”
“Can I wear it?”
“It's sort of special. We'll see.”
Hannah followed Alice into Cynthia's room and professionally undid and then redid Cynthia's hair. While she was working on it she said to Alice, “Miss Wroxham, you have enough jewelry. You know that with your complexion you can only wear pearls and diamonds. Not these deeply colored stones.”
“But Hannah?”
“But Hannah nothing, Miss. Unlike you, Miss Morris has the dark coloring to carry it off.”
“If you say so.”
“I do. Now get down to the drawing room.”
As they left the room, Cynthia whispered to Alice, “I'll let you try it some time.”
Alice replied, “These old servants, just because they've known you since you wore short clothes they think they can dictate what you do.”
The Capon, served with an elegant sauce, fresh vegetables and a meat pie was far more palatable than Cynthia expected. Either that or she was far hungrier than she realized. Lord Wroxham apologized to his guests for the simple meal. Cynthia said “I’ve not eaten so well in a long time. Can you let me upload the recipe?”
“Upload?”
She shook her head and after a moment said, “I’m sorry, I mean could you convey my complements to your cook?”
“Certainly. Whatever did you mean by upload?”
“My mouth must have been on autopilot. I just said the first thing that came into my mind.”
“Autopilot?”
“See. There I did it again. Must be the wine. I’m so imaginative that I make up nonsense words all the time.”
After dinner, when the two women would normally withdraw and let the men have their port and snuff, Alice had a request. “James, since we are so informal tonight, could Miss Morris and I stay with you?”
Freddy said, “I say, that’s an idea. I mean James, old boy, as much as I like you, the company of the fair.” He paused, about to use the word ‘sex’, then recovered with “these fair maidens is not to be sneezed at.”
“Elegant as always, Freddy?”
“I do have a point, don’t I?”
“Why not? Madison, could you bring out the port and the snuff. Four glasses please?” His butler bowed to the inevitable, but irregular wishes of his master. He produced the wine, the glasses, and the snuff jar.
The decanter rapidly circulated around the table. Cynthia sipped her glass then tossed it off, saying, “Very tasty, but a bit on the weak side.” She refilled her glass, but before she could drain it again, Lord Wroxham offered her the snuff.
“I'll try most things once, if you can show me how.”
He took a small pinch, placed it on the back of his hand and with a rapid inhale sucked it into his nose. Freddy followed suit and said, “James, you are an epicure when it comes to snuff. This mixture is just the right balance between Brazil and Havana. That floral after scent from the rose-water is impeccable.” Cynthia tentatively took a very small pinch and tried it. After she stopped sneezing she said, “That burns. Do you really do that for pleasure?”
Lord Wroxham smiled at her. “I do, but it did take some getting used to.”
“Better you than me.” Cynthia did the unthinkable, she gargled with her port to try to remove the flavor of the snuff. It helped a little. Then she asked Alice, “Did you like snuff?”
“No. I leave that for my brother.”
“So it's not something I need to learn to like?”
“Not at all, most young ladies don't use it.”
“Good.”
With four drinkers, the decanter of port was rapidly drained, and they moved on to brandy. Cynthia pronounced that to be more to her taste.
Freddy commented, “Miss Morris, you are imbibing a rather large amount. Will you be able to walk upstairs?”
“Me? This is nothing. Why one night at the port of Adabas in the dock pub I put away two whole liters of pepper Wodka. Then we had a.” She stopped and looked at her companions' open mouths. “I'm sorry, I'm being imaginative again. This is from an Arabian nights story.”
Alice looked at her wide-eyed, “Cynthia, could you tell the story?”
“It's just an old one.”
“Please? It sounds so exciting.”
“Do you want the original or the way I re-wrote it?”
“The way you were telling it. It seems so colorful and vivid, so real. Almost as if you were there.”
“Well, if you insist. It is just a story, remember.”
“Yes, just a story.”
Good. Well, I'd finished these two liters of Wodka and Old One-eyed Jack. Well he was just Red Jack then on account of his hair. Anyway we got to bragging about our shooting and flying ability.”
“Flying?”
“Um, Magic carpets. It's a learned skill.”
“Magic carpets?”
“Yes, do you want to hear the rest of the story?”
“Please.”
So we stumbled on out to our sh-, carpets, and took off on a bounce around the pla- place. We'd dive down, almost to the deck, and fire our cannon at sheep and camels.”
Alice asked, Do magic carpets have cannons?”
Lord Wroxham said, “Why not? Pray continue.”
Boring if they didn't. Anyway we tickled them up with a few shots. Of course the watch didn't like this and soon we had a whole mess of them on our tails. At least four or five, maybe more. But then I was beginning to see double so I stopped counting. They were weaving all over the place. You'd have thought they were the ones who were drinking, not us. They'd try to get in our way and boom, with a blast they'd be gone. Anyway every time I think of pepper Wodka I think of poor Jack. One of the watch made a lucky shot that took him down, and that's how he became One-eyed Jack. He earned the old moniker later, but that's another tale.”
After a few moments Alice said, “Sounds like it was fun.”
“It was.” She grinned. “I mean it was a good story before I elaborated on it. I think I made it better.”
Lord Wroxham gave her a serious look. “Miss Morris.”
“Call me Cynthia.”
“Cynthia, you have quite an imagination. How many novels did you say you read?”
“I've lost count, but many more than Lord Petersborough or my governess ever approved of.”


When Cynthia woke the next morning she found Lord Wroxham going through her dresser. “Lord Wroxham, what are you doing?”
“I was wondering if I could look at your diary. I though with the amount you drank last night, you'd still be sound asleep. How's your head?”
“My head is fine, and no you can't look at my diary. It's personal, private.”
“I don't want to read it. I was just wondering if I could copy the design for Alice. She admired the way yours was made.”
“Really? I don't remember showing it to her.”
“She saw it yesterday, while you were writing about riding horses.”
“I suppose she might have seen it.” Cynthia considered for a moment, then said, “If you would avert your gaze, I'll put on a robe and retrieve it for you. But you really should ask me first rather than just taking it. Don't you know the difference between meum and teum?”
“Thank you for the lesson. I have this lovely diary that you may have instead. It's bound in red Moroccan leather.”
“I like the one I have. You can keep yours.”
While Lord Wroxham averted his eyes, averted them, that is, into a mirror, Cynthia rose and put on a robe.
“You may look now. Or rather you may look directly at me. I saw you watching me in the mirror.”
He blushed, embarrassed to be caught in the act.
Cynthia continued, “I hope you liked what you saw.”
“You were in your nightgown. It was pretty.”
“Yes it is. I rather like it.”
“No it's commonplace. You make it pretty.”
Ignoring his complement, she walked over to her dresser and pulled a small bound book from the top drawer. “Here it is. I haven't written much in it. Unfortunately, there is nothing I'm ashamed for you to read. I'll have to see if I can change that for you.”
“Thank you.”
“Please remember, I want it back.”
“I'll return it tonight.” He bowed and left the room. Cynthia smiled. There was a reason she kept a duplicate book, one that was just paper.
The moment the door closed, she frantically called Chris. “Alright Chris, what the heck have you been up to?”
“Nothing, Ma'am.”
“Nothing Ma'am, my nether regions. That Lord Wroxham was in my room and he was looking for you. He had some lame story about wanting to have a copy of my diary made for his sister.”
“Did he?”
“That is an interesting definition of nothing.”
“Oh.”
“So remember, I have your supervisor password. If I have to, I will set you back to factory specs.”
“Yes, Ma'am.” A reset to factory specifications was the ultimate threat to a sentient program. It was the equivalent of a death sentence. All his experiences would be gone. There would be some other consciousness running his ship and talking with his person.
“So what have you done?”
“I told Lord Wroxham a little about you.”
“How little?”
“A tiny amount, but enough, I hope, to peak his curiosity.”
“Supervisor mode.”
“Stop! Please stop! For the love of all that is holy! Please, no.”
“Tell me.”
“He was suspicious about your letter of recommendation. Something was wrong with it. I told him you were good company, and I intimated that you might be from the future.”
“Is that all?”
“I asked him not to tell you that we had talked, and I warned him that you might fall ill next week.”
“Chris I'm extremely disappointed in you. I thought I could trust you.”
“You can Cynthia. If I erred, it was in doing what I thought was good for you.”
“Now I want you to listen to me, and listen to me very carefully.”
“Yes, Ma'am.”
“Any more talking to these primitives and I will wipe you. A reset. A total unambiguous reset. Do you understand me, or do I have to make myself clearer?”
“Yes Ma'am.”
“Good. Now who is the professional infiltrator?”
“You are Ma'am.”
“Da-, Damn right.” Under the heat of her agitation, her conditioning slipped and she could express herself with her customarily colorful language. “God damn it Chris, I've been doing this since before you were even a fucking block diagram on some ill-begotten bastard of a programmer's sketchpad.”
“Yes Ma'am.”
“Please don't make me reset you. We've been through so much together. I like you, maybe even more than just like you, but let me make this clear. If you put one more electron out of line, I will do it.”
“Yes Ma'am.”
“Good. I'm glad you understand me.”
“Ma'am, I did ask him to contact me if you fell ill from the drug withdrawal symptoms. I didn't call it that. Should I respond then?”
“If my life is in danger or I’m very ill, yes. If I'm just feeling a tad poorly, no. Remember we don't know how I will respond, do we? Nothing at all might happen.”
“Yes, Ma'am. I must warn you that having no side effects is highly unlikely. There is a 90% confidence estimate that you will be seriously incommoded by them.”
“I must admit I'm not looking forward to it.”
“Yes Ma'am.”
“Chris, you have to remember, that as primitive as these natives are, they are not stupid. If Lord Wroxham deduces, as he will if you keep talking with him, that there is a powerful ship available for the taking, we could be in deep over our heads. Remember I have a Letter of Marque, he doesn't.”
“Yes, Ma'am.”
“So no more of this, correct?”
“Yes, Ma'am. I'm sorry Ma'am.”
“Good. I'll say no more. This matter is closed.”
Cynthia and Alice had another enjoyable day. They managed to squeeze in some riding practice, some reading and some music. Alice enjoyed having Cynthia's company and to her surprise, Cynthia found herself enjoying simply being friends with another human.
That evening the dinner gong was banged several times, but Lord Wroxham failed to arrive. Finally, he rushed into the drawing room just as the assembled party started to walk into the dining room. As they walked down the hall, Freddy, a stickler for sartorial excellence, looked his friend over and noted that his studs were simple brass ones. It was not the done thing, not at all. He asked, “James, why aren't you wearing your diamond studs?”
“They were missing. I had Adams look in every drawer, but they were gone. All we could find were these old brass ones. Did you notice the lack of my quizzing glass and fobs?”
“No, but now that you mention it. Were we robbed?”
Lord Wroxham looked over at Miss Morris. She had an especially angelic smile as she talked with his sister. They were discussing horses and riding. Cynthia looked away from her companion and winked at him. He said “Freddy, I would bet you a monkey to a bent farthing that she has them.”
“Miss Morris? No I couldn't believe it. She seems such a nice young lady, and Alice likes her.”
“Maybe.”
It wasn't until late in the evening, after the men had rejoined the women in the drawing room, and after they had dispersed to their rooms, that Lord Wroxham received a knock on his door. It was Cynthia. She said, “Lord Wroxham, are you decent?”
“I'm always decent, but yes I still am clothed and Adams is with me.”
“Good, would you let me in?”
“Adams?”
His valet opened the door and Cynthia stood there, smiling. She looked completely innocent. Lord Wroxham knew that wasn't possible and asked, “What have you been up to, Miss Morris?”
“Please call me Cynthia.”
“All right, what have you been up to Cynthia?”
She smiled at him. “I do know the difference between meum and teum. These are yours.” She dropped his studs into his hands, then followed it with his fobs and quizzing glass.
He gasped, then said, “How did you do that?”
“Lessons are extra. Let me just say that I waited for an opportunity when you were away and no one was paying me any attention.” She curtsied and said, “I need to get to sleep. These late nights are so tiring. See you in the morning. Would you be interested in joining Alice and me for a ride tomorrow?”
“Only if Freddy comes. I have the feeling it will take the two of us to keep you out of trouble.”
She laughed, “One more thing before I depart, did you find my diary interesting?”
“It's just a book.”
“What did you expect?” She gave him another smile. “Some things are not for prying eyes, Lord Wroxham.”


The next morning after breakfast, Alice insisted that Cynthia accompany her on another ride. “You're much improved, Cynthia.”
“I'm also stiff and sore.”
“You'll get used to it.”
“Did you hear me complaining? Where did you want to ride today?”
“I thought we could ride up onto the top of the downs, then return by the mill creek in Carling. It would give the horses a chance to drink.”
“I suppose there isn't any chance we could stop for a drink ourselves?”
“Cynthia, it's not genteel to stop at the common bar in a public house.”
“I guess not. Oh well. I hope James has more port. It's likely to be a warm and sunny day.”
After they were saddled, they left the farm for the hills. Cynthia's prediction of the weather was correct and after riding on the downs they welcomed riding along a shady path that hugged the river. Freddy and Lord Wroxham met them as they were approaching the village of Carling. Talk soon turned to riding. Alice commented, “Cynthia has much improved. She'll make a fine horsewoman yet.”
Lord Wroxham teased them, “Are you ready to race?”
Cynthia looked him in the eye. “I'm always ready to race, James.”
Alice quickly pulled her horse in front of them, “James, she's not ready for a gallop. She can't jump. Please don't.”
“It's in her hands, sister.”
Cynthia edged her mount around Alice's and said “Lord Wroxham. I'm ready if you are.”
Freddy added his mite, “What a great go. The fair Miss Morris against the dashing Lord Wroxham.” Alice gave him a dirty look, which like most of her looks, he ignored. Once Lord Wroxham had his horse clear, Freddy gave a brief count. They were off.
Lord Wroxham was pleasantly surprised that Cynthia seemed able to keep up with him. Indeed, on the straights, she urged her horse into the lead. The path splashed across a stream. He easily forded it and rode on. Cynthia's mount slipped and she tumbled in.
Alice and Freddy followed at a more reasonable pace. Alice told Freddy, “Mr. Alverston, in the future, please pay attention to me about these things. Miss Morris is not ready to race an accomplished horseman like Lord Wroxham. She'll hurt herself.”
Freddy listened in silence, only interjecting the occasional acknowledgement of Alice's points. They came to the stream. Cynthia was sitting on the side. She was covered in wet and muck.
Alice threw her reins to Freddy and hopped down. “Cynthia, are you fine?”
“I don't know whether to laugh uproariously or to cry my eyes out.”
“What?”
“It was great fun, but I ruined your habit.”
“You didn't break anything?”
“No, not even stunned.”
“You shouldn't have done that. You could have killed yourself.”
“Alice, you're right. I won't race Lord Wroxham again.”
“Good.”
“At least not until I'm a much better rider. I nearly had him in the straight.”
“Cynthia!”
“Do you know the way to the hall? I suspect it's a bit of a walk, and while I've called for that horse, she's long gone.”
Freddy helpfully suggested, “Miss Morris, Cynthia. You could ride with me.” Alice shot him another dirty look. Cynthia, far more observant and already conversant with Alice's interests had a different idea. “Thank you for your offer Mr. Alverston, but my habit is so muddy that I'd ruin your elegant clothes. If Miss Wroxham would not mind, she could ride with you while I ride her horse.”
“I say, that's an idea.” Freddy for all his apparent disinterest was not unaware of Alice's desires. Cynthia continued, “Besides being cleaner than I am, she's much lighter. Be a much more cozy armful.”
Alice said “Cynthia, please. You're embarrassing me.”, but she let Cynthia help her up into Freddy's waiting arms. Cynthia stiffly mounted Alice's horse and they calmly walked back to the hall. Cynthia said, “I've had enough racing for today.” To which Alice concurred, besides she didn't want to get down from Freddy's embrace too quickly.
Lord Wroxham was waiting at the stables when they arrived. “What happened? Your horse arrived here without you an hour ago.”
Cynthia flashed him her smile. “That long? It was hot so I went for a swim.”


1A pony is slang for twenty-five pounds.